Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Teaching Observation Skills with Mentos

ss     Last year, my colleague Joe and I developed this amazing beginning of the year science observation lesson.  It was so much fun and the kids loved it!  What's not to love when you get to see a giant explosion? We also teach the children how to observe, how to record in their new science journal, variable /constants and how to plan their very first experiment for the year!

     This year we will start off again...with a blast!  I am offering this unit for FREE for 5 days.  Then I will be charging $5 per purchase.  If you are at all curious...I suggest you download it now! 
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Kicking-Off-the-Year-with-a-Mentos-Investigation

Feedback is very much appreciated...

Gotta Run!


Monday, August 29, 2011

What about claims and evidence?

     I just sat through an excellent overview of Junior Great Books - a reading curriculum that uses the shared inquiry approach.   I absolutely loved it because it follows my philosophy towards teaching.  In other words, it teaches kids how to think!  Inquiry is all about asking questions and finding answers/solutions in many different ways.  Finally - a reading resource that works like my math/science resources.  One of the components is to find your evidence from the story to back up your thinking.  Wow - that's simply claims and evidence. 

      In the FOSS Notebook folio (page 27) the authors write a little about this idea: "A claim is an assertion about how the natural world works.  A student might claim that metals stick to magnets.  For the claim to be accurate, it must be supported by evidence - statements that are directly correlated with data.Evidence can refer to specific observations, relationships that are displayed in graphs, table of data, dates and measurements."

Okay..so that seems tricky...how can I make it work?  After you have done an experiment or investigation and you have recorded data in your notebook, you can use this example to help you make sense of your data. Pretend you have been exploring magnets and materials to see what objects will attract to the magnet.

I love sentence frames to begin teaching the process of writing scientific explanations.  I would begin by writing:

  I claim that _____________________  or I know that_______________. 
                        I claim that metal objects stick to magnets.
 Next I would provide this sentence frame for the evidence part:
I claim this because___________or I know this because______________.
       I know this because the only materials that were attracted by the magnet were things made out of metal - mostly iron.

A fairly simple method that sums up the learning process in a quick, accurate and efficient manner. You can do it as a T chart if you have more than one claim/evidence to record as well.

Hope that helps you out today!  Gotta Run!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Safe and Sound...

     Just a quick post to let you know that we are safe and sound here in Virginia.  Hurricane Irene was much tamer than we thought - never lost power even!  I am curious to see how our home on the river fared...I think my dock is probably gone. 

     Any way...big news in blog land!  I was fortunate to get hooked up with a new blog spot called "The Lesson Cloud".  This is a site where bloggers like me can post freebies, blogs ideas, reflections...whatever.  It is great place to find new blogs and simple ideas. Come visit it today!

     Also, I have added an easier link to get to my Beach Artifacts FREE item on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Just click on this link to take you there right away...
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Beach-Artifacts-Science-Spot



Gotta run! Last day of vacation...back to work tomorrow!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sentence Starters and Vocab...

     The other day I posted the beginning version of my science spot and vocabulary charts.  Since I have been reading Writing in Science in Action by Betsy Fulwiler I have really been thinking about how to make science vocabulary more visible.  She suggested having a pocket chart with the science content words as well as the science process words.  This allows you to pick out the card when the student is using it or needs to use it in discussions as a visual reminder.  I really love that idea! I can imagine myself picking out the word variable when the children discuss what they changed...and holding it up for all to see. What a great strategy!

      I also love the idea of using sentence starter or frames to help students scaffold their writing.  For example, since I start out the year with observations...I will post these sentence frames on the green chart.
  • I observed...
  • I noticed....
  • I think this because....
I will also quickly introduce frames such as these:
  • For example...
  • The evidence shows...
  • The data show....
These will give me and my students a way to structure our thinking in way that will grow over time.  I chose to stick with 3 for a reason....3 is not overwhelming, but still gives students options.  I am fairly sure that my students will know what observe, example and data means...but may need to teach them what evidence is.  For that I will use my everyday words chart to introduce them to the concept of "clues"...think CSI, right???

I will probably be offline for a few days as we are expecting a visit from Hurricane Irene and may lose power.  Fingers crossed, I'll be back on Sunday...but...just in case know that's why I am quiet for now.  Speaking of Irene, I am back to the porch to carry deck furniture to the garage with the hubby!

Gotta run!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Animals sensing danger...how did they react?

     I actually found something positive and interesting in the newspaper today!  There was a report about how the zookeepers at the National Zoo in Washington DC recorded animal reactions prior to, during and after the earthquake we felt on Tuesday.  Hmmmm...sounds like a science notebook to me! I have always had an affinity for zoologists starting as a small girl curled up on my couch watching the many programs on TV staring Jane Goodall and her ground breaking research spent observing chimpanzees. 

     Do you know how she recorded information? Much like these modern scientists/zookeepers did - anecdotal records... No formal scientific method lock step cookbook recipe.  No, she took notes on what the animals were doing and made conclusions later.

    So what did the zookeepers notice on Tuesday?  The flamingos grouped together in a herd, the gorilla grabbed her baby and went to a high tree, the komodo dragon sought shelter, the lemurs called out a warning cry 15 minutes prior to the quake, and the beavers and ducks jumped in the water.  Some of these observations did not surprise me...like the fact that the gorilla grabbed her baby or the flamingos grouped together.  But some left me wondering more...why did the gorillas seek a high spot (a tree like structure)?  And why did the animals jump in the water?  Was it because that is where they feel safest? or is there a scientific reason behind it?

    So how can we apply this to the classroom?  I for one plan to bring in the article from the paper and read it to the kids and ask them what they thought about it...what do they wonder now?  I also have some wild life in my classroom...crayfish and beetles to start the year.  We, too, will make many observations based on structural and behavioral adaptations (FOSS - Structures of Life) We will record our observations in our science notebook using diagrams, note taking, and questioning...as we, too act like real world zookeepers, zoologists and naturalists in real world jobs.  How cool is that?



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

First FREE item at Teachers Pay Teachers!


    I am excited to say that my first item is up for FREE at the Teacher Pay Teacher website.  It will only be FREE for a short time, so make sure you down load it now!         

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Beach-Artifacts-Science-Spot


Also...here are some pictures to accompany the Science Spot...  You will notice I have a tray with several artifacts, tools (ruler, measuring tape and hand held magnifying glass) as well as two spots for index cards.  One holds the new index cards and one will hold the finished ones...not labeled yet.   There are the two posters I have in the Free File as well as some words to describe how to make your diagram - accurate, big, colorful and detailed.

      Next, on the cabinets above the science spot I have two pocket charts.  They will house science vocabulary and sentence frames to get students thinking.  I bought these last summer at the $1 spot at Target and use clothespins to hold them up.  The clothespins have double sided 3M tape that is used for the removable hooks. 

Can't believe I got this done...I am still shaking from the Earthquake today!

Holy Smokes - Earthquake in Virginia?

    Well today was supposed to be a last ditch effort to work in my room before official workdays begin next week.  It wasn't very productive...but it was interesting!  As I was eating lunch with my son, my buddy Stephanie and several teacher kids we heard a loud booming and the ground shook.  Now, we live near the Marine Base of Quantico where we often feel shaking from bombing or helicopters...but this was something WAY different.  I knew it was an earthquake right away.  Stephanie grabbed the kids and her chickfila sandwich and herded us out to the hallway.  The quake lasted about 2 minutes.  We were all sort of in shock and then the girls started crying.  Luckily it was over very fast...and we gathered with the others outside.

       We soon found out it was a 5.9 leveled Earthquake - epicenter about 45 minutes from our house.  I have lived here all my life and NEVER felt one before...it was something I won't soon forget!  I have to say that I was glad no one got hurt, and there were only a handful of children in the building.  I can't imagine what it would have been like with a school full of children!!

      Here is the damage from my husband's PE room.  My son and his friend Chase found it during a walk through the school! 

Unbelievable!

Anyway, still hoping to get my first FREE item up at TPT today...Working on that in the next few minutes!



    

Monday, August 22, 2011

Let's talk about...the Line of Learning!

     So....one of my favorite tools that I learned from FOSS is the Line of Learning.  This is another strategy that can cross curricular units and be used in math, social studies and even reading.  The idea behind this strategy is to let students add to their notebooks AFTER discussions, readings, investigations, etc...  It is often used after brainstorming sessions, KWL chars, characteristics of objects or sharing observations. 

How does this work?  After students have written their personal ideas in their notebooks for the day, they will draw a line of learning.  It is simply that...a line!
________________________________

Then you will have a discussion time - either whole class, partner or group time.  During this time you will share what you learned, add content piece to a class chart or vocabulary words in a word bank.  The line of learning gives students time to add what they have learned from listening to peers, teachers or readings.
    Students who struggle with memory often find it very useful to have this time to reflect (metacognition) in their notebooks.  I have often had former students tell me how much that line of learning really helped them process and assimulate the content. 

BIG NEWS:  Tomorrow I will post my first FREE item on Teachers Pay Teachers.  It will only be available for FREE for one week...so make sure you download it tomorrow! 

Gotta Run!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Writing in Science

 

      I just got back from a wonderful trip to the Northern Neck of Virginia where I was able to read, rest and relax as well as watch my two crazy boys jump off the dock and kayak for hours!  Peek into my paradise....


    While I was there I was able to view a lot of wildlife that lives near the Chesapeake Bay...Eagles, Ospreys, crabs, fish, stingrays, and our first river otter.  Today on a boat ride we watched a family of 9 ducks swim in front of us...I just love getting back to nature!

      I also spent some time reading a new and wonderful book called "Writing in Science...In Action" by Betsy Rupp Fulwiler.  It was just released on Amazon this week and is published through Heinemann.  Man...is it good!  Not only does the book have a ton of good strategies, but it comes with a DVD that shows exemplary science teachers in action.  I truly recommend that anyone who loves the idea of writing in science RUN to your computer and order it.  No, I am not getting any kickback from promoting it...it is just THAT GOOD.

     One of the things I love about the book is that it suggests teaching science using science notebooks (just like I do!), but then she teaches you how to extend the writing portion in your writing block.  She uses a ton of modeling and writing frames which actually teach our students how to think and write better explanations. 

    I am hoping to get back to my room one last time to set up my science spot and take pictures to post.  I have loved viewing other's suggestions online and I know you all do to!  But I also look forward to enjoying my last five summer days off....

That's all for now...gotta run!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Organization Tips!

     I know so many of us are at that point where we are counting down the minutes to the time school begins.  We have been shopping, thinking, and working in our rooms to make the classroom the most engaging and welcoming space imaginable.  Some things to consider when setting up you year in relation to science instruction:

  1. Do you have a space dedicated to housing ongoing science projects?  I call my place - The Science Spot!  Right now I have a title, a tray housing several shells and beach items, a magnifying glass and a small basket holding index cards.  This is the sign that is there lists the routines and procedures in very clear, detailed steps.   The students love it...it is part of our morning routine and the projects stay up all year.  Sometimes they are my ideas, but usually as the year goes on...they become inquiry stations set up by the children. Mine is housed on the counter by my sink for two reasons.  One (obvious reason) is for easy clean up.  The second is because it is the first place they look when they walk in the room.

Another idea are the use of tool boxes.  I use small Rubbermaid containers with a lid on them to house my science tools.  I usually have my kids work in groups of four which traditionally means six groups.  So, I have made six tool boxes that hold:  magnifying glasses, measuring tape, six inch rulers and tweezers.  As the year goes on I will add other tools - such as beakers, graduated cylinders and thermometers.  That way they are always ready when the students need them.  Simple, efficient and ready to go!

Unfortunately, I have not taken pictures yet to show these items.  I will add pictures next week when I go back into the classroom.

On a side note, I encourage you to check out the Clutter Free Classroom blog that I have linked at the side.  Holy smokes does she have some great ideas!  Her classroom is beautiful and the organization is amazing!  Another great spot to check out is The Organized Teacher Blog.  She too loves to keep things clean and crisp - easy to find and organized to the max.  One last heads up is Runde's Room.  She has been posting all kinds of cute pictures and projects to spruce up her room for the year.

Getting ready to head to the Northern Neck for some beach combing and swimming for a few days.  I will be off line dreaming about future posts...

That's it for now...Gotta Run!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Quick Writes! a peek into a child's thinking....

     I love a good way to peek into the minds of my students.  One way to do this is with a "Quick Write". I got these pointers from FOSS and would like to share them with you. 
       Quick Writes are usually short and to the point...designed to get to the heart of the topic at hand.  I like to use them as a preassessment to show what the students have for background knowledge on a new topic and to reveal misconceptions that they bring with them in the classroom.  This is crucial so that you can catch them early and work to correct these misunderstandings as you teach (not at the end of the unit!)
     When designing a quick write, you need to start with a topic in mind.  Think of a main concept, big idea or standard that you will be addressing and develop a prompt or question for the students to write a response to.  Jot down 3 or 4 concepts that you feel are common for your students to have as background knowledge ahead of time.  This will help you assess the prompt to determine who has a strong background, who has a typical background and who has a weak background on the topic at hand.

     Some teachers like to do Quick Writes on index cards so that they can do a quick sort into three groups - strong, typical or weak.  Others like to have students write the quick write in your notebooks.  I personally like the idea of combining the two.  I like to have them write on index cards, collect them, sort them and add feedback if needed.  Then I pass them back out and we glue them into the notebook to reflect on later in the unit as a self-reflection piece.  Students can then look at the first card and write a statement such as "I used to think....now I know...."

      What do you think? Would it work in your classroom? How would you adapt it to fit your needs and the needs of your students?

Gotta Run for now!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Taking notes based on Observations


Another great strategy from Seeds of Science today....  This one is on how to teach our students to take notes based on observation. There seems to be a lot of misinformation out there about whether or not we should be using the scientific method.  The truth is... real scientists use a variety of methods to record information.  One way is to make detailed notes simply by observing.  This is what Jane Goodall did in her famous research of chimpanzees...she observed using her five senses and she took detailed notes.... 
So how does this transfer into our classroom?  Choose an object from nature such as a rock, a shell, a piece of wood, a pine cone as well as a non-fiction text with good photographs, captions and information.  Explain that "observing means paying attention carefully and using all your senses to focus on details." (from the Seeds strategy guide - full link in my documents page). 

 The Students should follow these few steps.

1.  Focus your attention on what you are observing.
2.  Use as many of your senses as possible to observe (sight, hearing, touch, smell.)
3. Write down only what you observe, not what you imagine.
4.  Use scientific language.
5.  Be specific and detailed in order to create a picture with words.
6.  Include the date and time of your observations and any measurements you took.
7.  If possible, draw a detailed picture of what you observe and include labels.

My students record their observations in their science notebooks.  But some of you might want to use a worksheet that you can assess and send home.  Seeds of Science offers that too. 



Hope you are enjoying the blog!  Let me know if you have any questions or ideas for upcoming articles.  I'd love to help you out!

Gotta Run!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Phew...getting re-energized!

    Today I spent the day with teachers from my county doing a training using the FOSS Magnetism and Electricity Kit for Fourth Grade.  I always love spending the day with educators as they become engaged, curious and meaning seeking students once again.  We laughed, we played and we learned something!  We made new friends, we asked questions and we wondered...isn't that what a quality learning experience should look like  in our own classrooms? 

   So that made me think...what gets you re-energized when it comes to education?  Is it a new curriculum, a new tool, a new book or is it simply the kids and the people you work with?

       For me...it's all of those things.  I love to laugh....and my team mates and I laugh all the time.  We play pranks on each other, share stories and jokes...we genuinely like each other.  Without that support...teaching can be draining!   I also love a new book - I doubt I will ever switch over to Kindle or Nook because I simply love the feel of a new book that I can write in, hold and call my own.   I also love tools/toys!  Nothing excites me more than a new science kit - new scales, magnets, baggies with materials.  Oh..that makes me sooo happy! To top it all off is a curriculum that makes sense...that is research based and content rich.  A curriculum that teaches kids to think for themselves..wow! What a concept!
    But of course, the bottom line is the kids...it all comes back to the kids...Nothing makes me happier than to see the puzzled look on a child's face turn into the light bulb of understanding.  That is the joy of teaching!
     The end of the summer is bitter sweet.  I will miss my lazy mornings snuggling with my sons while I drink my coffee in my jammies.  But at the same time, I am so looking forward to the new crop of students who will become mine for a year (if I'm lucky!)  ,,,,

and THAT's why I became a teacher!
    

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Vocabulary in Science...a great strategy!



     I know I talk A LOT about FOSS on this blog, but I also LOVE Seeds of Science; Roots of Reading. (http://scienceandliteracy.org/)  I use two units in my fourth grade classroom - Planets and Moons and Weather.  My students and I love how they connect literacy to science in meaningful and enriching ways. 
     One of my favorite strategies is called "Science/Everyday Words".  In this strategy, you will make a class chart to record science content words and the "everyday" words that help our students connect to the word meaning.  For example:


Science Word
Everyday Word
Data
Precipitation
Evidence
observer
Information
Rain, sleet, or snow
Clues
look

  
I like to have a copy of the chart with the science words posted first and the everyday word side left blank.  As we go through the lesson or unit and we come to the word, we add them in. It seems to work really well and the kids make a connection.  In fact, it worked so well we use it in other content areas - like social studies, math and even reading. 

If you go to my documents link, there is a FREE PDF with the instructions and a blank worksheet to use as a model or even to give the students to keep track of the words as you go along. 

Hope you enjoy it!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Data...data...data....

    Ah...it's Friday!  Time to relax over the weekend...hoping to go to the Northern Neck and relax at the rivah!  Sadly to say though, I have two sick boys...so may have to cancel. Oh well..that's the joy of motherhood.

    So I've been thinking about Data....I used to think data was always numbers - graphs, charts, equations, etc... But I have since learned that data is a way to show your thinking and keep track of your observations.  We all learn in different ways and so we need to make sure that we give our kids different methods of recording.

     Today I'd like to talk about DIAGRAMS!  Ever since I was a little girl I have loved to draw.  Back when I was in school, we never had hands-on experience with science, but if we had...I would have loved drawing scientific diagrams.  Perhaps then I wouldn't have had to take Physics twice, Coach Hoy!  Anyway,  FOSS has developed an acronym that I use to teach my kids about the expectations for diagrams and that is ABCD.

      A    Accurate
      B    Big
      C    Colorful
      D    Detailed

I have found these suggestions to be super kid friendly and also specific and clear for my students.  I'd like to share some samples from former students:




I think all three of these samples show how drawing can take your explanations to another level.  By the way, the sticky note on the first example shows an assessment of improvement...but assessment is for another blog!

     I hope you are enjoying the blog!  I am hoping to get some resources available for purchase by September in the Teachers Pay Teachers website.  I am working on our Mentos Kickoff first!  Also, still need as many "likes" as possible on facebook.  If you can, please "like" the site! 

Gotta Run!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What are the four main components of Science Notebooking?

     There are so many different approaches to science notebooking and my approach is based on the method developed by FOSS and the Lawrence Hall of Science.  I have been to a week long training with them at the NSTA conference in Philly as well as a few other sessions in St. Louis.  I have seen a sneak peek into the new 3rd Edition of the FOSS kits and know that notebooking will be embedded in each and every lesson! 

    But, I also know that science notebooks can be used with any kind of inquiry approach to teaching science.  Inquiry is all about questions...which is why we start with Focus Questions for each lesson.  But what comes next?

    Science Notebooks should be broken into four main components:
  1. Planning the Investigation (includes Focus question, predictions, planning and procedures)
  2. Data Acquisition and Organization - narratives, drawings, charts and tables, artifacts, or graphs
  3. Making Sense of Data - frames and prompts, claims and evidence, conclusions and predictions, and I wonder statements
  4. Reflection and Self-Assessment - teacher feedback, self-assessment and lines of learning
I highly recommend that you go to my documents page and download the science notebook folio from FOSS for more information.  In the next coming posts I will spend some time talking about data acquisition...it's not just numbers!

Until then...Gotta run!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Focus Questions aren't just for science anymore??? or ever...

     I just had a great team meeting with my colleagues and we were discussing how we will  teach our social studies curriculum in the coming year.  Here in Virginia, everything centers around the History of Virginia from Native Americans until the present.  As we planned our first unit, we worked on improving the notebooks we had used in the past.  And how did we start??? With FOCUS QUESTIONS!  We decided that each lesson would have a focus question (sometimes called an Essential Question in our Curriculum) that we would base our instruction on. 
     We will also have a  notebook in which we will add data - drawings, vocabulary, reflections, charts and tables, and Venn Diagrams.  We will also supplement with videos, role playing, Tic-Tac-Toe differentiated menus and trade books....but the core will be the QUESTIONS. 
      I am super excited to transfer what I know works in science into my social studies curriculum as well.  Look out Virginia! Here we come!

Gotta run now...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Focus Questions

So what makes a good focus question for your science notebook?  Does it always have to be an investigable question?  My answer is ... not always..

     Most of the time my questions are investigable - "What conditions cause water to evaporate fastest?"  As explained in the FOSS science notebook folio (available to download on www.fossweb.com ) "focus questions determine the kinds of data to be collected and the procedures that will yield those data."  The FOSS program sets up all their investigations with a testable question that can be explored in a hands-on investigation.  However, when I have to veer from the program (yikes!) I always try to plan with my team mate a solid question to work off of...such as "What do you think will happen when the roller coaster tube changes direction?" or "How much water will the sponge soak up after three trials?"

     But sometimes, I do use a researchable question that may go with a nonfiction reading selection.  Sometimes we will spend a day reading an entry from a Delta Science Content Reader, a FOSS story, or a non-fiction article from a magazine.  Then, I may ask them to answer a question such as "What can you learn about soil from the reading today?" or a statement such as"Tell me 3 important facts you read, 2 important words you noticed and 1 one thought you are still wondering about". 

What are your thoughts about using Focus Questions in your notebooks?

Gotta Run!

    

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Why use Science Notebooks?

       About this time of year...I start to think about the why behind the methods in my classroom.  Why do I use science notebooks in the classroom?  Truthfully...it's because I love them! and the kids do too...  But there is some research to back up the effectiveness of this tool.

     In the article "Five Good Reasons to use Science Notebooks" by Joan Gilbert and Marleen Kotelman published in Science and Children magazine (NSTA) 2009 the authors pinpoint five points:(To see the full article go to my documents web page link.)
  1. Notebooks are Thinking Tools - encourages students to use writing for thinking and empowers them to become active in their own learning.
  2. Notebooks Guide Teacher Instruction - they give teachers access into students' thinking - what they do and do not understand, what misconceptions they have and the organizational skills they are using.
  3. Notebooks Enhance Literacy Skills:  they offer numerous opportunities to develop and enhance students communication skills, written, visual and oral.
  4. Notebooks Support Differentiated Learning:  they provide a structure and support for all students to achieve.
  5. Notebooks Foster Teacher Collaboration:  teachers need to work with others to work toward agreed-upon goals
      I agree with everything these authors determined as the key understandings behind using science notebooks.  They do provide a window into the minds of our students which then leads us, as teachers, to guide how and what we teach next.  They do provide many opportunities for writing - given many scaffolded approaches from frames to fill in to scientific explanations in a paragraph format.  They are open ended in a way that all students can feel successful on their own learning spectrum.  And if we do our jobs correctly, they are the right tool for teacher collaboration among our professional learning communitites.
       That's all for now.   Gotta run!


    So how do you start thinking about creating science notebooks in your class?

          On Tueday, August 9th,  I am leading a workshop for my county on creating and using science notebooks in grades 3-5 for the upcoming year.  I started on this journey several years ago.  I must admit...the first year, they were a little bit of a mess!  Yet as time goes on, and with several other workshop trainings at NSTA regional and national conferences, I feel like I have a better grip on what I'm doing.  I'd like to share some of my summer planning with you....


    First I start by meeting with my team members and coming up with a common pacing guide for the upcoming year. What sequence of units will we teach?  What should we change from last year?  What would we like to do new? What can we do better?  We had already decided to use a black composition notebook this year for our science notebooks.  We prefer them to spirals (tear easily) and construction paper models (get lost easily).

    Next, I plan how to set up my notebooks.  I type up my Table of Contents with the eight units for the year with a space to add page numbers.  Some years I use them, and some years I use it as my guide for the students to copy as the year goes on.

    After the Table of Contents, I need to add my expectations.  What will go in the notebook? I try to keep this short and sweet..limited to just eight ideas. I will have my students cut and paste this on the second page and we will refer back to it quite often during the first six weeks.  I want thm to understand that not only content and vocabulary goes into these notebooks, but also questions, drawings, color, and yes...even mistakes.

    The third thing I will put in to start the year will be the Word Bank.  Every unit will have a word bank and the first one is no exception.  My students will lable the next clean page with the title of the first unit: What is Science? and decorate it with pictures that come to mind when they think about science.  This is always a good pre-assessment piece to see what they are thinking at the beginning of any unit.  After they have drawn their pictures, then we will add the Word Bank.  Some teachers like to add this at the end of a section like a typical glossary, but I like it at the front.  That way I am free to use as many notebook pages as possible. I like the flexibility of adding more pages if needed.
         
    So...that is my starting point for now.  Tomorrow I will add some reflections about why science notebooks are important to use in any 3-5 classroom......... On a side note....I am having trouble inserting my documents.  The only way I could do it for now was to scan them and insert as a picture.  If anyone knows a better way, I would love some advice! 

    For now, gotta run!



    Saturday, August 6, 2011

    Thinking about the new year....

    Here we go...it is August...the dog days of summer....I have rested, read, relaxed and am now eagerly thinking about the new year at school.  I secretly can't wait to get back in the classroom....even though I am happy to have three more weeks of down time first!  Don't you love going to Target and getting fresh supplies? I love the feel of a new notebook, new markers...it all seems like new.  New beginnings...fresh start....that's where I am right now!

    On the other hand, I am also beginning to plan for the year with my team mates.  Where do we start? What is our focus? How do we want to begin?  We've decided to start with a short unit on "What is Science?" where we will introduce our science notebook and how to set up an experiment in a guided inquiry investigation.  Last year my teammate and I started the year with a mentos and soda blast off!  This year we are going to go a little further by having the kids design their own mento/soda investigation in small groups..

    Stay tuned...more details to come!